Journalists Address Growing Distrust of Media at IOP

“The search for truth doesn’t mean that every story has two equal sides,” said David Maraniss, associate editor at The Washington Post.

By Cindy Yao

The Institute of Politics (IOP) hosted four journalists from The Washington Post and CBS News at a panel on Tuesday titled “The Press and the Pressure: Political Journalism in 2017.”

The panelists were Karen Tumulty, IOP resident fellow and national political correspondent at The Washington Post; Dan Balz, chief correspondent at The Washington Post; and David Maraniss, associate editor at The Washington Post. John Dickerson, chief Washington correspondent at CBS News, led the discussion.

The panelists spoke at length on the growing distrust of media, especially during Donald Trump’s presidency.

“[Trump] obviously has the biggest megaphone in the country to delegitimize reporting with which he disagrees with,” Balz said. He also said that while every president has felt at times uneasy about coverage by the White House press corps, no previous president has turned a significant part of the population against the press.

Despite the number of fact-checkers that major news organizations have on staff, many people today only believe information from a network or publication of their choice, Tumulty said. She added that during the election, Trump recognized this and took advantage of people’s political biases.

Maraniss spoke about the “degradation of the search of truth,” which he says is the biggest threat to journalism. “The search for truth doesn’t mean that every story has two equal sides, it doesn’t mean that it’s, quote unquote, fair and balanced,” he said. “It means that you’re trying to find the truth and using common sense and deep reporting to get there.”

Maraniss noted that journalists are now under greater scrutiny by the public, and that it is important to realize that every reporter is vulnerable and human.

The panelists agreed that although many people do not believe or trust the press, there is still a steady audience that holds great appreciation for journalism.

“For most of us, our hope is that over time, the collective body of the work we do at The Washington Post or other news organizations holds up for its rigor, accuracy, aggressiveness, and for its ability to call things as they are no matter who is in power,” Balz said.

The event was dedicated in memory of David (A.B. ’47, A.M. ’51) and Ann Broder (AB ’48, A.M. ’51). David Broder, who served as editor of The Maroon during his time at the University, worked for over 40 years as a reporter and columnist at The Washington Post.

Broder was well known among his colleagues and protégés, including Balz and Maraniss, for his journalistic integrity and professionalism in the field.

“He was an inspiration to all of us…. His love of people [and] of the country was very profound in his reporting,” Maraniss said.